31 July 2012

Saint Iggy by K. L. Going

Iggy has it pretty rough, but as far as he’s concerned, life isn’t always that bad. Sometimes Mom goes away to visit people, but she almost always comes back home. Dad’s asleep most of the time, and Iggy knows to lay low when his deal Freddie comes around; Freddie isn’t such a nice guy. School can be a pain, but that’s just because they don’t understand Iggy. Even when they set up a hearing to decide on Iggy’s expulsion from high school, maybe there is a way that Iggy can prove them all wrong? He’s got one friend, the mostly cool Mo, who might be able to help him out.

But Mo has problems of his own, and when he gets himself into some financial trouble with the most intimidating drug dealer Iggy knows, Mo comes up with some big ideas for a plan that will make everything all better. Iggy’s struggle to become someone who can contribute something good to the world is interrupted by the need to survive each new day that keeps coming.

This story is layered with a painful innocence that clashes with the harshness of reality. It’s recommended to all ages, but be cautious that most readers will fall in love with Iggy and then be forced to recognize that life doesn’t always work out as planned.

Reviewed by kate the librarian.

19 July 2012

The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi

Mahlia's entire history has left her in a dangerous world, caught in the middle of a never-ending war. As part Chinese Castoff and part Drowned Cities, she fits in nowhere and is accepted by no one, except for Mouse, a kid who saved her life at the last moment with simple dumb luck, and the kind Doctor Mahfouz who has taken her into his home as his medical assistant, despite that she only has one hand (the other taken from her by the violence of war).

Tool is a creation of war. He is part man, part animal, and like Mahlia is accepted by no one. He has no real home except for the battlefield. He has been created and groomed to answer only to his master and his purpose is to fight to the death. He is the ultimate creature of survival, but half-men can never truly be free.

Mahlia and Tool end up in the unlikely scenario of being each others' companions and saviors. Unfortunately, there are rarely winners in any war. Recommended to all older readers, especially those who like dystopian novels and tales of war, survival, or adventure. This title is the companion to Printz Award-winning Ship Breaker, and both stories offer much food for thought.